Has anyone ever wondered if they were meant to be an emotionless human being? Like maybe showing feelings and expressing emotions just aren’t your thing? That was me. Growing up and well into adulthood, I shoved feelings and hurt aside. I tried not to let things bother me or I’d act aloof or stoic about any hurt or sadness I was confronted with. I hated feeling weak. I hated looking ‘sad’ or seeming pathetic to others –or to myself. I don’t remember crying in front of anyone as an adolescent. I know I’m still the same today– I try not to cry in front of friends or family– and if I do, it’s a rarity. I have been described quite often as lacking feeling or at least just doing a hell of a job at hiding it.
It’s my curse.
Even now, a year and a couple months after my husband died, the tears of anger and sadness I’ve shed behind closed doors have all been for HIM, not me. I was mad he didn’t get a fair chance against cancer. That he didn’t get to see his baby graduate kindergarten. That he won’t get to walk his daughters down the aisle. That he can’t watch his son become a man. The anger I hold because he didn’t get more than 41 years is worthy of every tear I shed for him.
But there are times that emotion shit comes at you out of nowhere and makes you ‘feel.’
Inside the library the today, I saw a young woman with a little boy probably about 2 years-old, and on her other arm she grasped a car seat holding a new baby girl. She looked exasperated as she tried to get the toddler to obey and follow her out –but instead he stood defiantly blocking the checkout counter. I know her arm probably felt like it was going to fall off. She probably didn’t want to raise her voice in front of these strangers waiting in line. I know she probably couldn’t wait until bedtime when she could have her arms, legs and mind to herself in peace.
She walked to her car as I followed and could envision her possible frustration of getting that toddler buckled in only after fumbling with the pumpkin seat with his baby sister in it first. I can guarantee she was getting ready to bust out some snacks or reach for that sippy cup probably stuck under the passenger seat. She was probably hoping the pacifier in the baby’s mouth would hold off cries until she got home. For that brief second I was her. I remember being her. I could close my eyes and find myself standing there, just 10 years ago right here in her place– albeit with one additional baby girl car seat in my arms.
I hurried to my car and slammed the door shut and I started to sob. There was no floodgate that could have halted the sea of sadness I felt sitting there gripping the steering wheel. I couldn’t have held these tears back –they were for me. I was sad that I wasn’t her anymore. I wasn’t that young mother who rocked her babies to sleep at night. I wasn’t the woman who had a healthy husband to snuggle with in bed. I can’t go back and be that me who thought she had it rough with a toddler and two newborns in her arms. I wished I could go back to being blissfully unaware that things could ever really go horribly wrong.
This is not about being sad or gaining sympathy –if anything y’all should laugh because as I was pulling out of the library parking lot still staring at and crying at this stranger’s life, I nearly ran over an elderly lady walking to her car. Seriously, I slammed on the brakes an inch from running her down. And if you think old ladies cannot give a proper death glare– I would direct you to my local library. But I was wrapped up in ‘feeling.’
And those tears felt OK. It felt good to ‘feel.’ While it was out of sadness, it was a relief to connect with some of the hurt I’ve been holding onto for a long time now. I want to remember it because it means I remember what I had. What I had was good.
It wasn’t a curse today to feel that emotion. It felt more like a blessing.
Andrea Remke lives in Northern Kentucky. She has a degree in communications and journalism from Saint Mary’s College, South Bend, Ind. She is a recently widowed mom to an 11-year-old, twin 8-year-olds, and a 6-year-old. She is a freelance writer and blogs at www.kymomtotwinsandmore.com. Find her on Facebook and Twitter @andrealremke.